Anglo-German agreement heralds simplification of air monitoring equipment approval in Europe

The Environment Agency for England and Wales and the German Federal Environment Agency, the Umweltbundesamt (UBA), have signed a Memorandum of Understanding which binds both bodies to the mutual recognition of the other’s approval scheme for air-emissions monitoring equipment.

The agreement is intended to pave the way for a European-wide approval scheme for equipment that measures industry emissions.

“This mutual recognition will not only deliver benefits to operators and environmental regulators, but will also reduce the bureaucratic burden on manufacturers seeking approvals in both Germany and the UK,” said Stuart Newstead, Head of the EA’s National Compliance Assessment Service. “The agreement means that manufacturers will be able to use one set of test results to win approvals in both countries.”

Prior to the agreement, the two schemes were already very alike, says Dr Richard Gould of the National Compliance Assessment Service at the Environment Agency. “There were some minor differences in the requirements for particulate analysers, which the Germans adopted as they were missing from the German scheme,” he told edie. “We also adopted a lot of good design requirements which were in the German scheme, but not within any international standards.”

However, “the two biggest sticking points were product certification, which we have and the Germans don’t, and paired-testing for gas analysers,” said Gould. Although not prepared to adopt product certification straight away, the Germans have been exploring the possibility. “On the other hand, the Germans insisted on retaining the requirement for testing two analysers side-by-side during the field test for gas analysers,” said Gould.

The UBA operates a type-approval scheme for Continuous Monitoring Equipment. This has been based on German standards published by Verein Deutscher Ingenieure (VDI).

In the UK, a Monitoring Certification Scheme (MCERTS) for continuous emission monitoring equipment (CEMs) was launched by the Environment Agency in 1998. This certification scheme, based on international standards, includes performance specifications for CEMs, test procedures and product certification (see related story). The Product Certification ensures that that the manufacturing of continuous emission monitoring equipment is consistent and that manufacturers consider how design changes may affect performance, dealing with any changes accordingly.

The EA and the UBA began working towards aligning their respective standards in September 2000. Both parties have been making provisions for mutual recognition of the other’s scheme.

There are clear benefits to be had by CEM manufacturers in the light of this agreement, say the organisations. Firms producing monitoring equipment that has been passed by Germany’s standards are likely to be ‘fast-tracked’ into approval under the MCERTS scheme in the UK. This has already been the case for Opsis AB, a Swedish manufacture that has enjoyed the British fast-track process in the light of its type-approval in Germany.

Both Agencies have agreed to continue working together on future changes to performance standards, test procedures and product certification, to ensure the future compliance of their respective schemes.

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